The proposal submitted to us is labeled “Project Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations, (Working Title).” We prefer to call them “Truth & Rec” and hope the group eventually settles on that as their name (our sources report there is some support for this). Regardless of what the members of the still-strategizing fledgling organization call themselves, we learned about them because they applied for a grant from New Media Ventures and sent that submission to us for review. Since they had invested time in writing the proposal but were not sure how it would fare, they submitted it to the Unfunded List at the same time they applied for funding. While most folks submit to us after they are rejected or they opt-in through one of our co-review partners, we see value in reviewing a proposal at any stage of development. Eventually, this proposal was successful with New Media Ventures and the group will receive their first significant funding, a grant over $100k. We believe that the feedback we provided to them and the follow-up conversations and connections we were able to make will benefit them as well. We look forward to reading another submission from them this Spring, when their name will finally be settled.
When we received it, we assigned their proposal to a variety of evaluators with similar fundraising and activism experience so that we could provide a thorough and complete report, full of tips and suggestions for going forward. The report also included a couple specific follow-up items that we were excited to help move forward.
One of our evaluators, David Searby, is a retired State Department alumnus and member of The Lincoln Project. A lifelong Republican, he is very interested in bringing the country together using humor as a medium. This has been his focus for years. In 2016, I partnered with David on a separate project called Komodia that was about building comity through comedy. You will hear my voice narrating this video we made about gerrymandering. I thought David would make for a good reviewer on the Truth & Rec proposal and I was right. David is now excited about the effort and he is in active conversations with Truth & Rec about campaigns, potential funding, and collaborations with his new effort called Trouble4Good. Thanks to David, the two groups have already met with a US Congressman to discuss their ideas.
As luck would have it, one of our evaluators from the Skoll Foundation was already familiar with Truth & Rec, having seen the New Media Ventures announcement. She was eager to talk to them about Skoll’s own approach to racial justice and other progressive issues. During the post-report period, we were able to connect the staff from Truth & Rec with the appropriate staffers in the “Skollarverse.” And while Skoll doesn’t fund early stage ventures, the conversation is starting and the work continues. Over the years, we have connected a number of groups to Skoll, primarily through our super-evaluator Gurpreet Singh, who works at Skoll as a monitoring and evaluation expert.
Many of the proposal readers on our evaluation committee are passionate about social justice and we love giving them the opportunity to support fledgling efforts like Truth & Rec whose mission to right past wrongs is noble but will take considerable effort. New groups with new approaches looking for some help with their grant writing efforts are perfect for our program so we are pleased to announce that Ian Madrigal from Truth & Rec will join the Unfunded List Board of Directors this January for a full two-year term. We find tremendous value in having the unfunded themselves lend their perspective to our governance and look forward to working more closely with Ian as an evaluator, a proposal writer, and a member of our Board of Directors.